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the-south-asian.com                         January  2001

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Ritu Kumar - Designing for 'Queens'

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Ritu Kumar
"India today is perhaps the last surviving country where the rich textile legacy is not showcased in a museum but in the hands of its surviving 16 million artisans" 

 

The winners of all three International Beauty titles of 2000 were attired by designer Ritu Kumar. The high priestess of Indian haute couture has dressed up 17 young ladies of whom 13 have won the Miss India pageant and seven have gone on to win the Miss World, Miss Universe, and Miss Asia-Pacific titles.

by

Surabhi Khosla

 

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The traditional look L-R: Diya Mirza (Femina), Lara Dutta (Indiatimes.com), Aishwarya Rai and Yukta Mookhy

After conquering India a number of times she has annexed the world four times and the universe twice. Ritu Kumar, India's top fashion designer, has over the past six years, dressed 17 Miss India participants of whom 13 have won the crown and seven have gone on to win the Miss World, Miss Universe, and Miss Asia-Pacific titles. The latest in her line of victories are Lara Dutta (Miss Universe), Priyanka Chopra (Miss World), and Diya Mirza (miss Asia-Pacific).

Ritu Kumar has been designing wardrobes for the finalists of the Miss India beauty contest since 1994. The outcome of her effort has been very rewarding as seven contestants have emerged winners at the international level--- the Miss World, Miss Asia-Pacific and the Miss Universe contests. Three others made it to the runners up grade while three more contestants have won the Best Gown Awards. A further three managed to gain significant scores in their national costume rounds. Apart from the last three, ten contestants came home with some award or the other.

The impressive record, is by no means an easy one to achieve, both for the contestants or the designer responsible for the image. Says Ritu Kumar, " Designing of costumes is more complex than it seems and can be equated to art . There is no formula here, as the same style cannot be used on different contestants. I have to take into account the personality of the individual for whom the dress is being designed. Secondly there is that added pressure that your clothes are going to be up against international competition." The idea is to present a sartorial personality who is at home in any type of garment." She must give the feel of someone who has an elegant wardrobe, one which is presented to the world with as much individuality and cultural context as possible."

The most difficult part about the whole process is the uniqueness of each contestantís mind and personality. Some look stunning in a sari, others in a sarong, some in a heavy zardozi lehnga, while others look great in a swimsuit.

It can take almost four months to get a wardrobe ready for an international beauty contestant. And then it takes a few weeks to get the contestants comfortable with the attire. Once that is done, says Ritu, they step out supremely confident of who they are and are ready to take on the world.

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